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President’s budget request is a disappointment for science

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The U.S. federal appropriations season is upon us once again. On 10 February 2020, President Donald J. Trump released his Budget Request for Fiscal Year 2021. This is the first step in the appropriations negotiation process that ideally concludes before the current fiscal year ends on 30 September.

While a few vital science programs were funded, overall the president’s proposed budget is a severe disappointment for science and ignores the many ways in which science fuels our economy, safeguards our security, improves our health and well-being, and is critical for a thriving future. In the coming months, each chamber of Congress will craft their own appropriations bills, and we expect Congress to show a better understanding of how vital these science programs are. As such, we look forward to a final 2021 budget with more appropriate science funding levels.

Sign up here for updates on forthcoming opportunities to make your voice heard in Congress about the value of Earth and space science funding.

We have provided a breakdown of several key agencies and highlights from the President’s Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Request. You can see the full PBR here.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Key provisions

  • According to the Department of Commerce, NOAA’s full budget request is still “under review.” However, topline programmatic budget numbers were made available from the Office of Budget and Management (OMB).
  • As with the president’s fiscal year 2020 budget request, all of NOAA’s main offices would receive cuts, with the National Ocean Service (NOS) and the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) proposed to receive the severest cuts—a $225M cut to NOS and a $237M cut to OAR.
  • $1.2 billion would be provided to maintain polar and geostationary satellites for weather prediction, as well as $108 million for the continued development of the Space Weather Follow-On mission.
  • $188 million would be provided to continue mapping and exploration efforts of the U.S. exclusive economic zone and Alaska, and support existing navigation and mapping programs.
NOAA
In millions of dollars, rounded to the nearest million FY19 FY20 President’s Budget Request FY21 Percent Change FY20 vs PBR FY21
Overall $5,425 $4,466 TBA TBA
Operations, Research and Facilities + Procurement, Acquisition and Construction $5,352 $5,295 $4,632 -12.5%
National Ocean Service $585 $606 $381 -37.2%
National Marine and Fisheries Service $909 $948 $842 -11.1%
Oceanic and Atmospheric Research $566 $590 $353 -40.2%
National Weather Service $1,163 $1,169 $1,118 -4.3%
National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service $1,699 $1,514 $1,504 -0.7%
Mission Support $292 $330 $324 -1.9%
Office of Marine & Aviation Operations $326 $342 $332 -3.0%

 

National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA)

Key provisions

  • NASA is one of the few agencies to receive a significant increase in the president’s fiscal year 2021 budget request. However, NASA science would receive little of that money. Most of the additional funding would go to advancing NASA’s Moon to Mars. 
  • As in previous years’ budget requests, the president’s budget request would eliminate NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement, as well as the CLARREO and PACE Earth science decadal missions.
  • The budget would provide funding for an accelerated Lunar Discovery and Exploration program, a Mars Sample Return mission launch as early as 2026, and the planning for the Mars Ice Mapper.
  • The budget supports the continued development of Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP) and new Heliophysics Explorer missions: PUNCH, TRACERS, and AWE.
NASA
In millions of dollars, rounded to the nearest million FY19 FY20 President’s Budget Request FY21 Percent Change FY20 vs PBR FY21
Overall $21,500 $22,629 $25,246 11.6%
Science Mission Directorate $6,906 $7,139 $6,307 -11.7%
Earth Science $1,931 $1,972 $1,768 -10.3%
Planetary Science $2,758 $2,713 $2,660 -2.0%
Heliophysics $720 $725 $633 -12.6%
James Webb Space Telescope $305 $423 $415 -2.0%
STEM Engagement $110 $120 $0 -100.0%

 

National Science Foundation (NSF)

Key provisions

NSF
In millions of dollars, rounded to the nearest million FY19 FY20 President’s Budget Request FY21 Percent Change FY20 vs PBR FY21
Overall $8,075 $8,278 $7,741 -6.5%
Research & Related Activities $6,520 $6,737 $6,213 -7.8%
Education & Human Resources $910 $940 $931 -1.0%
Major Research Equipment & Facilities $296 $243 $230 -5.5%
National Science Board $4 $5 $4 -6.4%
Office of Inspector General $15 $17 $18 8.2%
Agency Operations & Award Management $330 $337 $346 2.6%

 

Department of Energy (DOE)

Key provisions

  • For the third year in a row, the administration proposed eliminating the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E), which promotes and funds research and development of new energy technologies. The administration has stated that the work of ARPA-E should be done in the private sector, but reauthorization of the agency has consistently garnered bipartisan support in the House of Representatives.
  • The president’s budget would also cut more than $1 billion, or 16.6% from the entire DOE Office of Science.
DOE
In millions of dollars, rounded to the nearest million FY19 FY20 President’s Budget Request FY21 Percent Change FY20 vs PBR FY21
Overall $35,685 $38,586 $35,400 -8.3%
Office of Science $6,585 $7,000 $5,838 -16.6%
Basic Energy Sciences $2,166 $2,213 $1,936 -12.5%
Biological & Environmental Research $705 $750 $517 -31.1%
Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy $2,379 $2,848 $720 -74.7%
APRA-E $366 $425 $0 -100.0%

 

United States Geological Survey (USGS)

Key provisions

  • The president’s budget request proposes a $300 million cut to USGS’s overall budget—a decrease of nearly a quarter of its current budget.
  • As with the president’s previous budget request, the Land Resources and Environmental Health mission areas would be consolidated within other mission areas.
  • New in this year’s budget proposal is the creation of a chief scientist position, reporting to the USGS Director, to act as liaison between other federal agencies and provide counsel on research and applications crossing the agency’s mission areas.
USGS
In millions of dollars, rounded to the nearest million FY19 FY20 President’s Budget Request FY21 Percent Change FY20 vs PBR FY21
Overall $1,160 $1,271 $971 -23.6%
Ecosystems $157 $171 $127 -25.3%
Land Resources $158 $166 $0 -100.0%
Energy, Minerals, & Environmental Health $112 $114 $91 -19.7%
Natural Hazards $166 $171 $138 -19.2%
Water Resources $226 $234 $181 -22.8%
Core Science Systems $118 $138 $212 53.8%
Science Support $103 $97 $94 -2.7%
Facilities $120 $181 $128 -29.4%

 

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Key provisions

  • Congress has authorized steadily increased funding for EPA overall in the last two years, but the president’s budget request would slash the EPA budget by more than 25%. This includes a 32% cut to the EPA’s Science and Technology. 
EPA
In millions of dollars, rounded to the nearest million FY19 FY20 President’s Budget Request FY21 Percent Change FY20 vs PBR FY21
Overall $8,058 $9,057 $6,700 -26.0%
Science & Technology $718 $716 $485 -32.3%
Environmental Programs & Management $2,643 $2,663 $2,236 -16.0%
Superfund Research Program $79 $81 $74 -9.0%

 

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)

Key provisions

  • The NIEHS, which conducts research into the effects of the environment on human health, would see a 9% cut under the president’s budget.
NIEHS
In millions of dollars, rounded to the nearest million FY19 FY20 President’s Budget Request FY21 Percent Change FY20 vs PBR FY21
Overall $775 $803 730 -9.0%
with Superfund Research Program $854 $884 804 -9.0%

 

United States Forest Service (USFS)

Key provisions

  • The Forest & Rangeland Research Program subcategory would receive a 25% cut in funding for fiscal year 2021, with a request that these funds be made available for Fire Research.
USFS
In millions of dollars, rounded to the nearest million FY19 FY20 President’s Budget Request FY21 Percent Change FY20 vs PBR FY21
Forest & Rangeland Research Overall $300 $305 $249 -18.3%
R&D Programs $223 $228 $171 -25.1%

 

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